In what appears to be an attempt to avoid contempt proceedings, the Sindh government has removed Dr Khalid Mehmood Iraqi from the post of acting vice chancellor of Karachi University and appointed the varsity’s senior most professor, Dr Nasira Khatoon, as acting VC.
Dr Nasira, the dean of faculty of science, is the first female professor appointed to the post of KU vice chancellor.
A notification dated Feb 28 issued by the universities and boards department states: “In compliance of the order passed by the Honourable High Court of Sindh, Karachi, dated 26.01.2022, Prof Dr Nasira Khatoon, Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Karachi, is hereby appointed as acting Vice Chancellor, as an interim arrangement, till further orders.”
The notification came after the Sindh High Court (SHC) in a recent hearing warned the authorities of contempt proceedings if they failed to implement the Jan 26 order under which the government was required to appoint the senior most faculty member as acting VC of KU.
Sindh govt removes Khalid Iraqi in compliance with SHC order; appoints senior most professor Dr Nasira as acting VC
The SHC ruled in its Jan 26 order: “Before parting with this order, we have noticed that serious allegations have been levelled against the present Acting Vice-Chancellor of the respondent university as discussed in the preceding paragraphs, therefore, we deem it appropriate to direct the respondent university to forward the names of 10 senior most professors according to the seniority list maintained by the respondent university to be placed before the worthy Chief Minister, Sindh to nominate one senior-most professor in BPS-22, who shall be notified as the acting Vice-Chancellor in the intervening period,” the court order stated.
Prof Iraqi, among other concerns related to his appointment as acting vice chancellor, was not in the list of 10 senior most professors on the campus.
The case pertaining to the appointment of the senior most professor as acting VC had been in court for less than two years.
“We are happy that court orders have been implemented. Today, we have also met Prof Nasira to congratulate her as well as share our grievances,” said Karachi University Teachers’ Society president Prof Shah Aliul Qadar.
He added that she had assured teachers of her complete cooperation in addressing their problems. Teachers’ grievances, he pointed out, were related to pending selection boards, payment of evening classes’ fees and medical bills.
Challenges for new acting VC
Sources said the challenges the new acting VC faced included the uphill task to ensure rule of law and transparency at KU that remained in the media spotlight, mainly because of allegations of political appointments and growing corruption.
They also said that the decision over payment of annual leave encashment to staffers would be tough for Dr Nasira as it was declared illegal in an inquiry conducted by the National Accountability Bureau in 2017. The employees did receive it during the tenure of Prof Iraqi.
Dr Nasira assumed office on Tuesday. She did her PhD in 1994 in parasitology from KU’s department of zoology, while her field of specialisation is clinical and veterinary parasitology and pathology. She has been associated with KU since 1988. Since 2021, she has served as a convener of the postgraduate admission process and holds additional charge of the KU Director Centre of Excellence of Marine Biology.
According to a university spokesperson, Prof Nasira completed five research grant projects from 1996-2000. She has also been a member of various scientific committees and board of studies and board of faculty, as well as a member of KU Senate and the Academic Council.
Iraqi moves SC
Sources said Prof Iraqi had challenged his removal before the Supreme Court.
“I congratulate her [Dr Nasira] on new responsibility and wish her well. I also want to say that I took the charge of KU as an acting vice chancellor through a government notification and left the charge when asked to do so,” Prof Iraqi said, while extending full support to the incumbent acting vice chancellor.
Asked about the grounds on which he has challenged his removal, Prof Iraq said that his lawyer could share this information.